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  • Writer's pictureLoren Javier

A LOOK BACK: Tall Tale: An Unbelievable Adventure

Photo: Disney

Continuing on my Disney+ watchlist is Tall Tale: An Unbelievable Adventure. The movie is an wonderful Old West fantasy story the kind of which you could see play out in Frontierland at Disneyland. It's that kind of bigger than life tale of the romantic west.

Tall Tale: An Unbelievable Adventure tells the story of a 12-year old boy named Daniel (Nick Stahl) who must help save his family farm from some steampunk industrialist villain named Stiles (Scott Glenn). He receives some from some heroes from his father's stories. They are tall tale heroes Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze), Paul Bunyan (Oliver Platt), and John Henry (Roger Aaron Brown). There's also a cameo by Calamity Jane (Catherine O'Hara), who was less a tall tale figure than a taller than life historical figure. At first, Daniel does not believe they say who they are, but he quickly becomes friends with them until he must look into himself to ultimately know what to do.

Photo: Disney

This movie was right up my alley because I absolutely loved the tall tales of America's heartland. I grew up in Minnesota where we always heard stories of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe. They were as much favorite stories as any fairy tale I would hear. So, I appreciate any film that tries to promote these wonderful tales and mythic heroes.

I thought that the film was beautifully told. Patrick Swayze was absolutely brilliant as Pecos Bill. I hardly even recognized him as the man who dazzled us with dancing in Dirty Dancing. But, he always could be a chameleon depending on what role he plays. Platt and Brown also give wonderful performances, even though the Paul Bunyan of my youth dressed more like a lumberjack than a mountain man. Nonetheless, they jumped out of the pages of my childhood books.

Scott Glenn played a great villain. Stiles was dangerous and threatening. I loved his train which seemed like something out of a steampunk dream. O'Hara was a fun addition to the cast and she certainly played well with Swayze. They looked like they had a lot of fun together.

Photo: Disney

Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski does a wonderful job. The landscapes are beautifully photographed. They feel like a romantic version of the wild west, complete with amazing fantastical rock structures that make you yearn to be there.

The nicest message in this film is that you must believe in yourself and that you can be your own hero. It's something that we need to tell our children all the time.

I thought that this was a fun Disney movie and had everything that a Disney movie needs in a strong message of triumph over tragedy and magical characters who help along the way. Is it the strongest Disney movie? Probably not. It does suffer from some pacing issues. But, I think it was well worth the watch and I had a lot of fun watching it.

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